History of Whiskey
Whiskey is a common ingredient in many cocktails and it is often served neat as well. But when at a bar, it is important to know just what the customer is ordering as there are many different varieties and qualities of whiskey.


Whiskey is an alcohol produced from any grain, such as: corn, wheat, rye and barley. The process of making whiskey is not a simple one as many steps are involved. First the chosen grain is converted into grain sugar by mixing and grinding it with barley malt then adding a cooked mash of corn or rye. After 2-4 days of fermenting the mixture with added yeast, a liquid known as “distiller’s beer” is produced. This mixture must then be distilled to produce what can now be called “œwhiskey”. However, it will not be like the whiskey we all know as it will lack color and be very strong. The aging process that follows is done in oak barrels to develop the color, flavor and aroma of the alcohol. Some whiskey producers even opt to add an additional step in the process. Prior to aging the alcohol, it is filtered through charcoal in a process called leeching. This is done in order to eliminate any impurities, but the quality and ultimately the price of whiskey truly depend on how long it has been stored in oak barrels.

There are 4 major whiskey-producing countries, including Scotland, Ireland and Canada, which all name their whiskeys after the country, and the United States, which names them after the grain and process used to produce the whiskey. These 8 different types of U.S. whiskey include rye and corn whiskeys, so named because they are made from a mash consisting of at least 50% of rye or corn grains, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys after both the areas they are produced, and sour mash, blended, straight, and bottled-in-bond whiskeys after the process used.


The British Isles have been distilling the mash of fermented grains to made alcohol for hundreds of years, using methods introduced from invading forced from the European mainland. Since then, Scotch whiskey has developed as its own variety of whiskey, as has Irish whiskey, and Canadian whiskey in North America. Whiskey has come a long way from the rough harsh moonshine that was once created in homemade stills, with the U.S. producing various types of the alcohol, differing slightly by production processes, aging time, grain used, and geographical area.

Bartending Tips

Whiskey is a drink often used in the creation of cocktails, such as: Whiskey Sour, John Collins, Old Fashioned, Rusty Nail, Bloody Mary, etc. That being said, good quality whiskey is best enjoyed neat and in a whiskey tumbler. If served at room temperature, without ice, the flavors and aromas of the whiskey will be at their best.

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